Thursday, April 16, 2009


Map shows the present geography of Kidiyur to Malpe area, North of Udyavara.

Udyavara was one of the earliest port towns in the Karavali Tulunadu.It was mentioned as 'Odara' in an ancient Greek writing called 'Oxyhydrinchus papyrus'.
Malpe was also an ancient port town and as mentioned in a Greek farce written in the ca 200 CE known as 'Papyrus Oxyrhynchus'. The Greek play narrates a tale involving a 'Malpi niak'(a Malpe Naik?) who abducted a Greek woman. She was finally rescued by a teem of Greek sailors who took her back to her country.

The next place-name, which teases one's mind, is Mattu or Matti village in Udupi District. The two segments of the village are known as ‘Kote Mattu’ at the East Bank and ‘Mattu Koppala ‘on the West Bank of Udyavara River. It is located to the west of Pangala village. It is reachable by taking a right turn towards West at Katapadi on the highway from Udupi to Mangalore. Western Part of Katapadi is ‘Kote ‘ (Old Fort area). If we cross the River bridge we reach the coastal village of ‘Mattu’ or ‘Matti’. The 'gulla' (globular brinjal ) grown here in plenty is known as 'Mutti-Gulla' which adorns an enviable position in the culinary celebrations of Udupi Shri Krishna Temple. The word Mattu or Matti and its variants are ubiquitous in Tulunadu (eg. Hejamadi Mattu, Matpady, Mattaar) and in South India (eg. Mettur, Kaveri River basin, Tamilnadu).

Analyses of the Word: Mattu or Matti
The place-name 'Matti' is a Prakrit word that means 'soil'. Apparently it was used in the sense of land or habitation. We can see similar usuage in Bel–mannu, Kem-mannu, Kod-mannu etc where the word mannu stands for soil, land or village. Sandy soil of Mattu village is suitable for growing an improved variety of ‘gulla’(= globular brinjal or eggplant). Thus it appears that the word ‘mannu’ could have been a variant or derivative of the word ‘mattu’.

Alternately, the words ‘matt’ ,’matti’ or ‘mattu’ have several shades of meanings such as a manner, style, level, height, measure, pride, pattern etc. as cited in Tulu Lexicon (pages. 2479-80). Styles of singing and dancing are also described by 'matt/ mattu. A toddler's walk is described as 'matta-matta nadupuni' in Tulu. 'Mattar' means 'summer-end highlighting the period prior to the heavy down pour'. Cock fight event arranged before the start of rainy season is called 'mattaruda katta'. The place-name 'Mattaaru' acquired fame because of arrangement of traditional cock fights on a big scale before onset of southwest monsoon. 'Mettur' in Tamilnadu is known as a "town with crests and troughs". Similar description aptly applies to Mattu/ Matti, considering topography, i.e. undulating rocky nature of the land.
From Pangal, the river meanders slowly at the beginning of Mattu Village, as you will notice from the map (See Post-181) and then flows straight at next half of Mattu.
Can we presume that the name was derived from the River water flows roundly first and then straight in a constant level (‘matta’) in undulated motion and thereafter joins Udyavara River.

'Mutti gulla'
Shri Vadirajacharya Teertha was 18th Pontiff (yathi/seer) of Sode Mutt, which is one of the Eight Mutts of Krishna Temple, established by the proponent of 'Dwaitamat' Madhwacharya. He was also a social reformer. He was offering food to his Ishta Devatha (favourite diety), Hayagreeva or Hayavadana (God Vishnu with the face of a horse) behind a closed door. The horse was stepping up on his shoulders to eat it. On seeing the Yathi coming with empty vessel, Brahmins from Mattu were sceptic and angry. They thought that Vadiraja was eating the food meant for the God. One day they poisoned the 'naivedya' (food meant for God for offering). The horse ate it as usual but to the surprise and dismay of those Brahmins, the idol of Krishna (made of black saligrama-shila) at Krishna Temple at Udupi turned to blue in colour. Feeling guilty, they asked for forgiveness. He gave those Mattu Brahmins brinjal seeds, thought to be produced by his miracles. Since then, the brinjals cultivated in Mattu is being offered to Lord Krishna as 'naivedya' and bluishness of the Diety vanished gradually. This mutti gulla is whitish with light green shades and is non-septic in nature.

Next to Kadekar is Kidiyoor (Kidi+oor), a village southwest of Ambalpady. We can reach this village from Kalmādi also, after crossing the small bridge, by name Bankara Katta, over the small streamlet, which joins Udyavara River.
'Kidi/Kedi' means a feather or the thorny back of a fish. It is possible that this narrow strip of marshy land might have obtained its name owing to its shape, i.e. feather-like or thorny back of a fish like topography. Or the place-name might have been derived from the word ‘kedu’ that represents marshy lake. Mark the word 'Kedumpadi' in Tulu Lexicon (p. 899), which is meant as 'a marshy land covered with water'. Before habitation, especially by fisher-folk and toddy-tappers, Kidiyoor area must be a marshy waste land. The drinking water available here is generally brackish (saltish) because of proximity to the Sea. Fishing and coconut plantation were the mainstay in earlier days.

Banaker Katta
Our enquiry about the origin of Bankera Katta is not met with a reliable answer. It is believed that the 'katta' was built by a man called 'Bankara'. 'Katta' is a temporary bund or dyke, made of mud, etc., across a stream to store water for irrigation, just like 'koorikatta' in Panambur before the New Mangalore Harbour Project. It also means a pool (bridge). One possibilty is that the Banakara is one of the popular surnames in northern Karnataka. It is heard that Bankara katta was used as a mooring for boats and ‘manjis’ (large cargo boats) in the past.

Bolje (bol+je) is a part of Udyavara on the east of NH-17 on the northern bank of Udyavara River. 'Bol' means white and 'je' means habitation; so it can be deduced that it is a place inhabited by white skinned people/ tribes. Who were they? Do we have any unequivaocal historical proof or can we establish any Mediterranean (or Greek) immigrant connection?
Whether it is a place of 'Bollals'? Whether Ballal is the present form of Bollal? We see similar place-names, such as Belle, divided by Papanashini Rivulet as Moodubelle and Padubelle, and Bellarpady, Belmannu, etc.. This Papanashini Rivulet joins Udyavara River.

We can cite names similar to Bolje. In Maharashtra, there is Belapur (trans-Thane Creek area) and Belur (also known as Velapur) in Hassan District and also in West Bengal. Vel or Vela also means bank/beach (eg. saikata vela, i.e. sandy beach).

In Tamilnadu, there is a class of warrior-cum-farmer community, called Vellalars. 'Vel' means spear or lance and 'alars' mean Chiefs or Controllers. In a nutshell, they are the people controlling the masses with the help of 'vel' to convert the wasteland into cultivable land. Perhaps, they are akin to 'Kuntalas' of Karnataka. 'Kunta' means spear. The other postulation is that 'they are controller of flood water or clouds. Is the term 'Bollal' is akin to 'Vellalar' ?

Deciphering hidden knowledge
To philosophize, the knowledge is never lost but it is hidden. Postulations, with self-evident proofs, may not be always right. Topographical or historical proof is necessary in some cases but it is not always readily available. Readers, even with a bit of information, may do well by sharing it with us or by commenting on the various Posts in this Blog.

-Hosabettu Viswanath

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Books for Reference

  • A Comparative Study of Tulu Dialects By Dr. Padmanabha Kekunnaya. Govinda Pai Reserach Centre, UDupi. 1994
  • Koti Chennaya: Janapadiya Adhyayana. By Dr. Vamana Nandavar. Hemanshu Prakashana ,Mangalore.2001.
  • Male kudiyaru. Dr B. A.Viveka Rai and D.Yadupathi Gowda, Mangalore University,1996.
  • Mogaveera Samskriti By Venkataraja Punimchattaya. Karnataka Sahitya Academy.1993.
  • Mugeraru:Jananga Janapada Adhyayana. By Dr Abhaya Kumar Kaukradi.Kannada & Culture Directorate,Bangalore & Karnataka Tulu Academy, Mangalore,1997.
  • Puttubalakeya Pad-danagalu. Ed: Dr B.A.Viveka Rai,Yadupati Gowda and Rajashri, Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Tulu Peeta. Mangalore University.2004
  • Se'erige. Ed:Dr K.Chinnapa Gowda.Madipu Prakashana,Mangalagangotri,2000.
  • Studies in Tuluva History and Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
  • Taulava Sanskriti by Dr.B.A.Viveka Rai, Sahyadri Prakashana,Mysore 1977
  • TuLu naaDu-nuDi By Dr.PalthaDi Ramakrishna Achar, Puttur.
  • TuLu NighanTu. (Editor in Chief: Dr U.P.Upadhyaya, Govinda Pai Research Centre,Udupi. Six volumes. 1988 to 1997
  • Tulu Patero-A Philology & Grammar of Tulu Language by Budhananda Shivalli.2004.Mandira Prakashana Mangalore. p.317. (The book is in Tulu Language using Kannada script)
  • TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
  • Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999

A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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